Moroni Chapter 6
Moroni 6:2-4 Moroni outlines the requirements for baptism in the Nephite church of his day.
Moroni 6:5-6 Moroni describes the habits of worship of the few remaining Nephites who were being hunted by the Lamanites. And the church did meet together oft, to fast and to pray, and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls.
verses 1-4 Elder John A. Widtsoe enhanced our understanding of the earthly priesthood ordinances such as baptism:
Great eternal truths make up the Gospel plan. All requirements for man's earthly guidance have their eternal spiritual counterparts. The earthly ordinances of the Gospel are themselves the reflections of heavenly ordinances. For instance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and temple work are really earthly symbols of universal realities and of truths that must be recognized if the Great Plan is to be fulfilled. The acceptance of these earthly symbols is part and parcel of correct earth-life, and being distinctly of the earth, cannot be performed elsewhere than on earth. In order that absolute fairness may prevail and eternal justice be satisfied, all men, to attain the possible fulness of their joy, must accept these earthly ordinances. There is no water baptism in the next estate, nor any conferring of the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of earthly hands. The equivalent of these ordinances prevail, no doubt in every estate, but only as they are given on this earth can they be made to aid, in their onward progress, those who have dwelt on earth. For that reason those who have departed this life without having accepted the earthly ordinances which constitute in part the conditions of entrance to the Church, must have that work done for them on earth. By proxy they must be baptized by water, receive the laying on of hands and accept temple ordinances. By this method the path of eternal life, which all must tread, is made invariable in fairness and without discrimination. Were there any departure from this order, it would be a short time only until men might take upon themselves the authority of devising various methods whereby eternal joy might be obtained. This would be unnatural because order prevails throughout nature (A Rational Theology, 150-52).
1 And now I speak concerning baptism. Behold, elders, priests, and teachers were baptized; and they were not baptized save they brought forth fruit meet that they were worthy of it.
2 Neither did they receive any unto baptism save they came forth with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and witnessed unto the church that they truly repented of all their sins.
3 And none were received unto baptism save they took upon them the name of Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end.
verses 1-3 Moroni describes the qualifications for baptism into the Nephite Church. They are virtually the same as those listed by the Lord through revelation in this dispensation: "And again, by way of commandment to the church concerning the manner of baptism-All those who humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his church" (D&C 20:37).
A "broken heart and contrite spirit" is a vital and specific gift of the Spirit we may earn through our diligent obedience to the Lord's commands. It is the gift of divine motivation, that gift, once earned and acquired through personal revelation, provides the individual with constant and enduring motivation to obey the commandments. The reader should make certain he understands the concept of gifts of the Spirit. For a thorough discussion of this important topic see Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 1 chapters 7 and 8: Spiritual Growth-Gifts of the Spirit and The Blessings of Spiritual Gifts. For a discussion of the specific gift of the Spirit called a "broken heart and contrite spirit" see "The Solution to Pride-A Broken Heart and Contrite Spirit" in The "Natural Self" and "Spiritual Self," in Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 1, chapter 5.
The word "meet" in this context means suitable, fitting, proper. The "fruits meet for baptism" are faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; an attitude of gratitude for the Savior's atonement and a recognition of one's total and complete dependence upon his merits and mercy; an anxious willingness and desire to obey and serve him at all costs; and a yearning to repent.
verses 4-9 It is fascinating to read in these verses Moroni's description of the practices of the Nephite Church. At the time of his writing, with all the Nephites in constant danger, it is not possible to know how many church members remained and what the nature of their worship might have been. Moroni's descriptions here of the practices of worship of the Nephites were likely based on the Nephites' practices of worship prior to the great final battle of the Nephites and Lamanites.
4 And after they had been received unto baptism, and were wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost, they were numbered among the people of the church of Christ; and their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith.
verse 4 "they were numbered among the people of the church of Christ; and their names were taken, that they might be remembered" Here is the Nephite Church's equivalent of our modern-day membership record system.
"nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way" They studied the scriptures. Obviously "perfecting the saints" was a major mission of the Church then, as it is now. We are also reminded of the necessity of diligently fellowshipping new converts. President Gordon B. Hinckley has recently taught that every new convert needs a friend, a church calling, and "the good word of God, to keep them in the right way." Isn't it interesting to learn that the need for fellowshipping has not changed in the last sixteen hundred years!
"relying alone upon the merits of Christ" This phrase implies that man lacks sufficient merit of his own to entitle him to return to the presence of the Lord. He must depend completely upon the grace of God. He is a beggar at the throne of grace (Mosiah 4:20).
"the finisher of their faith" Faith in the Savior must be converted to spiritual growth or progress. This is done through the process of sanctification wherein the blessings of the atonement are repeatedly extended to an individual as he repents of his sins and imperfections, re-covenants to obey the commandments at the ordinance of the sacrament, and then succeeds in actually obeying the commandments. Thus, is our faith "finished."
5 And the church did meet together oft, to fast and to pray, and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls.
verse 5 "the church did meet together oft" Anthon H. Lund declared: "Unless the saints attend their meetings, it will be hard for them to keep alive in the gospel" (CR, October 1907, 9).
"speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls" They taught and fellowshipped one another.
6 And they did meet together oft to partake of bread and wine, in remembrance of the Lord Jesus.
verse 6 The vital role of the sacrament in our spiritual progression has been abundantly discussed-again, see "The Role of the Sacrament" in Baptism, the Ordinance that Brings Spiritual Growth, in volume 1, chapter 18 of Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine.
7 And they were strict to observe that there should be no iniquity among them; and whoso was found to commit iniquity, and three witnesses of the church did condemn them before the elders, and if they repented not, and confessed not, their names were blotted out, and they were not numbered among the people of Christ.
verse 7 The importance of church discipline is two-fold. First, it maintains the spiritual integrity of the Church. Second, it helps the offending individual along the road to repentance. For additional discussion of the principle of church discipline, see the commentary for Mosiah 26:6; Mosiah 26:29-30.
The principle of witnesses, outlined in this verse, continues to guide the modern Church (D&C 20:83; D&C 42:80-83; D&C 42:102; 134:10).
8 But as oft as they repented and sought forgiveness, with real intent, they were forgiven.
9 And their meetings were conducted by the church after the manner of the workings of the Spirit, and by the power of the Holy Ghost; for as the power of the Holy Ghost led them whether to preach, or to exhort, or to pray, or to supplicate, or to sing, even so it was done.
verse 9 The word "whether" here is used with an archaic meaning and does not imply that only one alternative was possible. "Whether" here might be interpreted as meaning when.